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Old Berrien County Courthouse

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1838–1839, Gilbert Avery. 313 N. Cass St.

One year after Berrien Springs became the seat of Berrien County government (the county seat moved to St. Joseph in 1894), this wooden temple-front Greek Revival courthouse was built. Four fluted Doric columns support the entrance portico, and pilasters ornament the corners of all four walls. A square, two-stage cupola with louvered openings surmounts the gable roof. The courthouse rests on a raised brick foundation, probably constructed later to create lower-level space. It is one of the oldest extant courthouses in Michigan. Another is the end-gabled Michilimackinac County Courthouse (1839; 7374 Market Street) with a cupola originally topped by a spire, now the Mackinac Island police station, which held the court of the original seat of Mackinac County on Mackinac Island before it was moved to St. Ignace. A treasury building, a sheriff's house, a second courthouse, and a jail (now demolished) were added to the courthouse square complex in the 1860s and 1870s. This group exemplifies the small county courthouse square that gave dignity to the government of the emerging counties of the Great Lakes region in the mid-nineteenth century. Since 1967 the Berrien County Historical Association has served as the steward of the buildings on the square and the interpreter of county history.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Old Berrien County Courthouse", [Oronoko Charter Township, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-BE11.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 232-233.

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